Municipal infrastructure

Once it was a question of access to a grave, later to a road (possibly even paved), then tap water, sewers, drains and possibly public transport. Then the infrastructure that keeps the world turning began to have more to do with communication. Even as a kid for me the collossal yellow-brick Post building next to Mannerheimin aukio was a sign that somehow roads and letters (the kind you read) were intimately linked. Mannerheimin aukioPhotographed here 2 years ago before it got covered in scaffolding but several years after it was resized by its new neighbours, Kiasma and Sanomatalo.

This week Finland’s transport and communications ministry announced that broadband internet is to be a civic right. Even the UK’s Guardian reported this.

Municipal infrastructure is massively important if mostly unnoticed. Well, bizarrely enough, it’s in the ‘virtual’ age that it’s had more of a visible presence in the streetscape. Having said that, Finland tends to go for one-off huge masts rather than for the scattered British or French approach (though I have heard of the French tucking them away in church spires!)

Mast The government gave advice back in 2003 on how to build masts and antennae in the landscape. Well, this one’s bizarrely aptly located behind what used to be the Telephone Association (of which earlier on this blog).

Before I start to sound like I’m sucking my teeth about how awful things are, let me remind readers that it was LESS THAN 20 YEARS ago – I’m not kidding – that the whole country had access to the electrical grid. Most people in Helsinki would probably think that was an outrageous lie, but there were one or two villages in the backwoods of Kainuu that were only linked up in 1981 if memory serves me right.

So much for all of Finland being all the same!

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